Tag Archives: detachment

Oh-so-softly

I am guilty—who do I blame?
I am old—who do I entreat?
I am torn—who do I thank?

There is, I suspect, in the shell of every need
the pith of an answer
and the crown of a desire rooted deep in pure release.
Not lost (not yet) but slipping,
just-oh-so-softly away.
Aye, slipping.

There comes an age when you are ‘older.’ Not ’25 is older than 20’ older but ‘old.’ You recognize that the majority of your life is behind you and that certainly the most dynamic, energizing part has slipped into the past.

This realization puts you in a reflective mood, looking back on your life. What matters is who you have been, and are, and the people you affected and who affected you. But it matters only in a reflective way, as a mirror reflects the world. The moment that is, is, and for right now, that is all you have. Not the past, not the future, but only the here and now.

Thank you for reading Oh-so-softly. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at Quaddick Park in Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

3 Comments

Filed under Poetry

The next after another

On the darksome trail of this black ledge
I am blind,
but that is what I feel, isn’t it—
the next step?

If on the rough scrabble
I slip and fall,
that is what I bleed, isn’t it—
the step back?

I am as lost on this path
as I am bound to it,
but that is what I am, isn’t it—
the lockstep?

Against the cliffs my noise-some heart
echoes wrongly,
but that is what I hear, isn’t it—
the step up?

And now? Now I’m just tired
‘either/or’ ‘stop/go’
but that is what this is, isn’t it—
the final step?

My wife and I were driving to a Bahá’í conference when I noticed a hand painted sign off to the side of the road which said “Black Ledge” and an arrow pointing off in a direction. It was both incongruous and odd; why would anyone point to a black ledge?

It struck a chord with me and I linked it up with a conversation with my dearest friend and brother-in-heart, Sam, about service to humanity. Such service is an essential aspect of being human and yet it is not easy, nor does one pursue it without pitfalls and aches. Moreover, it can be wearisome and tiring, not the least of which because it can often fall on deaf ears and cold hearts. Yet, still it is important to continue and pursue such work, because you do it not just for the recipients, but for yourself, to learn humility and patience.

To learn humility and patience. That is my dear Sam in a nutshell.

Thank you for reading The next after another. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

Comments Off on The next after another

Filed under Poetry

To trust

It is what it is, it is said,
and so is, when it is,
the curse of the lazy,
the sin of the cruel,
or the pith of those
who are wise.

Such a slippery thing is ‘is.’
I know it, to say it, but
rarely have the courage
to knit ‘i’ and ‘s’ together—
to know it for what it is,
to let it all go unowned
and loved from afar.

Thank you for reading To trust. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at Buttonwood Farms in Connecicut. All of the sunflowers are sold and the profits donated to charity. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

2 Comments

Filed under Poetry

It is not like that, death

We believe we are weaving each instance into a tapestry,
one that we are both in and which wraps around us.
But we are fooling ourselves if we think there are ends.
Look back, there was no beginning; look forward, what do you see?

The stars will grow weary in time
how much more then would we, where there are none?
It is—to be pithy—less about time than timelessness.
Think of the blind; they do not see black, they do not see.
So let those who can see, see that, and take comfort,
if it is comfort that they seek.

Thank you for reading It is not like that, death. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at my home in Connecticut. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

2 Comments

Filed under Poetry

All grown up



My sons keep themselves awake at night,
their future the warp, and their fear the weft
of a blanket that dares them to sleep,
because it wants to drag them down
into their darkness, gasping.

I hear this, I see this, I know this, I care;
I raised them, I love them, I do.
And it’s not that I want to, or don’t,
or should or shouldn’t or won’t,
it’s their time, not mine;
so for me, I’m sorry,
but at night,
I sleep like
a stone.

Thank you for reading All grown up. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken at the Fundació Joan Miró museum in Barcelona, Spain. I cannot remember the artist’s name, but it was from an installation entitled Scars. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem, and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

2 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Detachment

IMG_1719a

She holds and twists her long-telling tale
of tangled and torn-at knots: blue ones, red ones,
yellow ones, green, her nails worn to the quick
sorting the strands of the rough fibers,
tiny dark stains bled into their ragged ends.

Blue ones, I think, for the oceans of ink wept
and yet to be written; red ones for the nights that
the sharp-tongues came out, yellow for a spot
to stand firm on. (The blow, it’s certain, is coming,
yet you stand there just the same.) And finally
green, dark green, that whispering green,
that green-green germ that grows inside you:
the one you eat whole and alive, else it eats you up
from the inside—because you planted it just for you.
That one.

up

Thank you for reading Detachment. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph of the river was taken in my home town of Putnam, just as the sun was going down. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

2 Comments

Filed under Poetry

I just can’t till this land no more

Ghosts - Bodie State Park, CA
I just can’t till this land no more,
I just can’t till this land.
It’s a barren land, this land I hoe,
seeded with the salt of tears.
I stand on this land and it pulls me down
yearning to swallow me whole.

Here the wind whispers to the plow,
the plow to me and I to the yoke back:
You live only to die, to reap what is sown
and to gnaw the bitter root.

Carry on.

swril2

There are times when, out of desperation, fear, hope or love, we try to hold on to things and to control them. But they cannot be held, cannot be controlled and it is futile to try—they only strangle in your grip.

Santayana said, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. If there is humor built into Nature, that is it.

The photograph is entitled Ghosts and was taken in the ghost town of Bodie in Bodie State Park, CA. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

Thank you for reading I just can’t till this land no more. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

4 Comments

Filed under Poetry

One fall drive in the Poconos

Maple leaf forever

The small maple leaf, deep red with tiny yellow daubs and
a bent stem, floated down before the windshield and slowly,

lazily even, started to curl midair, casting as
it twisted, a spell on time itself: sound stopped and light curved

in a still sheen, highlighting the pale yellows on one side
of the road and the blood reds on the other, with a pair

of puzzled eyes—hazel my mother called them—floating in
between. Suddenly I knew this for what it was: an ache

for all those calm, quiet, forgotten moments, the ones of
absolute lightness that are sweeter than breath itself and

sufficient for being them unto themselves. Gone then
were those agitated moments—

With a whoosh, more imagined then heard, the little maple
leaf flew up and over the car, into the void behind.

– or –

The small red leaf twisted in the wind,
an instance of perfect resignation,
a breath released before I—
gone.

 

swril2

 

Recently, my wife and I spent a week in the Poconos, the name the resort area goes by in Pennsylvania. (In New York the same area is known as the much more prestigious “Catskills,” which just goes to show you that even a mountain range can do with good marketing these days.)

We were both, by the time we got there, exhausted and tired in both body and spirit, so the trip was a welcome respite from our daily clamor.

The incident described in the poems happened exactly as described, but that raises the question, Why two poems under one title?

I wish I had as good an answer as the question. The longer poem was my attempt at a more structured, detailed poem. You will note, for example, the 14 syllable line construction until the break and how much color plays a role in it. But in the end, I wanted to try something even  more closely aligned (if not as descriptive) with the spirit of the event, its brevity and intensity.

Like any good parent I will not state a preference of one child over the other. But please, feel free to weigh in on which you think works the best for you.

Thank you for reading One fall drive in the Poconos. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. These poems and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

7 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Ian Hamilton’s “The Garden”

Ian Hamilton is a poet from the second half of the 20th century who I greatly admire and whose poetry I love to champion. You can find a listing of more of his poems on the Book of Pain here.

The Garden

This garden’s leaning in on us, green-shadowed
Shadowed green, as if to say: be still, don’t agitate
For what’s been overgrown—
Some cobbled little serpent of a path,
Perhaps, an arbour, a dry pond
That you’d have plans for if this place belonged to you.
The vegetation’s rank, I’ll grant you that,
The weeds well out of order, shoulder-high
And too complacently deranged. The trees
Ought not to scrape your face, your hands, your hair
Nor so haphazardly swarm upwards to breathe
In summertime. It shouldn’t be so dark
So early.
All the same, if I were you,
I’d let it be. Lay down your scythe. Don’t fidget
For old clearances, or new. For one more day
Let’s listen to our shadows and be glad
That this much light has managed to get through.

For more on Ian Hamilton, I refer you to his Wikipedia page.

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s “The Garden”. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

Comments © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved.

7 Comments

Filed under Poetry

Fix

I took the stuff that makes
the light fail around the edges
and causes sound to disappear,
sealed it in a package,
wrapped it with a hug,
and flew it out to the coast,
letting it go, all of it,
praying to God my tears
didn’t ruin the return address
so that he could find his way
back home.

Please, can you fix him
so that he can be what he can be,
and not the junkie he’s become?
Please?

Thank you so much for reading Fix. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

10 Comments

Filed under Poetry